Monday Musings: Afterstorm Thoughts

MondayMusingsLogoI wanted to write during the weekend but all-day and all-night snowstorms tend to turn down my energy levels to an all-time low.  So no, I didn’t get to do a Friday Five update from last week’s list — probably more because I didn’t really have much to say.  But there is hope that list will get done a week late.  But still done.

I tried to take a walk yesterday but there was still #snow everywhere. This #firehydrant in front of my place is usually my #meterstick when it comes to the #snowfall. He's buried deep as you can see. Not looking forward to walking out to catch the busIt snowed, and it snowed and it snowed.  Most people from where I come from (where we do NOT have snow and where it is HOT all year round even when it’s coolest in December) dream of seeing snow and witnessing the snow falling.  I did, too, when I first got here and I got a big snowstorm to make that wish come true during my first winter.  Then I had to walk out the day after the storm because someone was sick and I just felt I had to go get some tea.  So I went out in the snow and got some tea from the grocery behind our apartment. It was then that I realized it wasn’t all that pretty—and I lost my love for snow after that.  It’s one of those things that you wish would fall so you could enjoy it and then magically disappear.  Alas, it doesn’t.

Because it’s cold it usually lingers.  And when it warms up a tad, the snow melts and then freezes into ice.  I don’t know about you but I like walking without having to worry that I will fall, and I have fallen a few times.  I am thinking of the warmer climes of Manila and wishing the snow away.  While the sun finally showered us with so much needed sunshine yesterday and today, just because so much of it fell, I don’t think the snow is going away anytime soon.  There are mountains of snow in the city taller than you and me.  (Of course, I’m a short 5’2″. )  Then again, Mother Nature might relent.

Peasant Pasta, my go to comfort food.  I gave up rice decades ago, but I have always had a love-hate relationship with pasta.  I love to eat it and I can cook it well. Of course I have to be firm with myself when I actually am on a diet — because pasta is anathema to any cleanse or weight loss regimen.

For all the ingredients and cooking secrets (like how to make it sweet like the Jollibee spaghetti even my little tyke loves), my favorite pasta is actually a simple mix of pasta dressed with olive oil or butter and sprinkled with black pepper and a ton of parmesan cheese.  I went into the weekend ready, and I cooked up some for one of the meals during the storm.

  •  I cook enough pasta for one serving in, believe it or not, a tiny sauce pan.  I had read up somewhere that you don’t really have to have a huge pot boiling.  You just need to estimate the pasta you need, cut it up in the appropriate size to fit in the itsy-bitsy pan and fill it with water to cover the pasta.  Make sure to stir during the first 60 seconds to stop it from adhering and be sparing with the olive oil.  I don’t salt my pasta because I have a bland palate.  (I even do my eggs the same way — no salt AT ALL.  Gasp.)
  • I don’t rinse my pasta but just drain it.  (Pasta for one goes straight into my bowl, and I find that rinsing helps only if you intend to store the pasta leftover for use with a different sauce or more sauce later.)  While still hot, I put a slice of butter, sprinkle some pepper and then toss to coat the pasta.
  • And the final touch — grated cheese to your heart’s desire.  I don’t toss the cheese with the pepper or the oil/butter because I find that it tends to clump together and gets concentrated in some of the pasta.  I do it at the end.
  • Eat heartily.

Somehow, just writing that up made me hungry again.  And I have sworn off pasta for until my next “break” in between phases.  That might be a while.

Social media can be a blessing and a curse.  I’m including this here as a reminder to myself that this is one post I must write about one day soon.  So many secrets have been spilled via social media.  Don’t you just hate how you can stumble on to something you wish you never knew about or found out — but it was just there for all the world to see, and turns out, you were the last to see it?

One can deny the truth to death, but beware of exif data on those snapshots.  And everything online is dated — even if Instagram makes you calculate by number of weeks passed, you’d eventually arrive at a proximate timeframe within a week’s window.  Which reminds me how just a little more than a year ago, I received one such picture of what would have been easily deniable without the photo evidence.

The universe listens and when it speaks, it’s our turn to pay attention.  It’s so uncanny how right at that moment when you feel your grip slipping, something mundane or ordinary chimes in and reminds you to keep your focus on the positive instead of dwelling on the other side.  Silly hats and unexpected hellos that remind you that for every person who hurt you or broke your heart, you found two or three who blessed your life with their friendship and love .  It’s as if the universe heard your anger boiling up inside and decided to send a refreshing breeze your way to remind you about the good things that came out of all the tears and the pain.

And you end your day thinking “Yes, I’m in very good place.”
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And so the snow came…

And the white stuff keeps falling.. At its prettiest before everything turns horribly cold.  For all the griping we do against it, #snow is one of Mother Nature's breathtaking gifts to us if we only stop a while to see the beauty in it. #snowfall #onmywayYesterday was one of those days that made me pine for Manila.  Trudging through the snow in the morning and literally climbing in and out of it on the way home is one of the things I hate most about winter.  And forget having to worry about stepping on freshly plowed snow or snow that had turned to ice, and it’s one treacherous walk.

It is a pretty sight as it falls and starts blanketing the surroundings.  But pretty, like in real life, fades eventually.  Slush and ice, not necessarily in that order, often supersede the vision it started out as Mother Nature takes over.

So it’s another Friday –can you believe that?  And we’re into March.  That’s  quarter of the year passing us by.  I’m not even going to ask where it went.  I’m at that point in my life when I actually appreciate the passing of time instead of trying to fight it.  Maybe it’s me mellowing down.
The New York Public Library under half a day's worth of #snow and it's still falling. #CantWaitForSpring to get here. #NYPs #manhattan #mynyc #mynewyork #winter #winterinnewyork #cold #snowstillfalling #midtown #bryantparkOne of the departments under my boss has gathered its global heads and is holding an offsite in the city.  The boss made a joke about what they’re doing in New York during this unfortunate time — but the truth was, more than half of them couldn’t be happier to be here right now because they have never experienced snow like this in their respective countries.  Like us in Manila.  It can be such a thrilling experience to be in a snowstorm the first time, watching and feeling the snowflakes fall and watching it accumulate around you.  A typical New Yorker would probably not find that experience as awesome, but to those in countries where snow doesn’t even exist, it can be the experience of a lifetime to watch that for the first time.  Well, they got their fill.  We got a LOT of snow.
Ice and snow laden pine needles after the snowstorm.  Pretty in the cold.  Trying to see the positive in all of this.  #winter #winterinnewyork #iceandsnow #onmywayhome

We’re also springing forward this weekend, and we will now be effectively 12 hours, instead of 13 hours, behind Manila now.  That means the longer days will be upon us soon — and I can only wish that spring can finally come and be truly present.

I’m trying not to get too excited about April.  Last year, it was one of the worst times I’ve ever seen of the month, and I’m determined to make things better this year, even if by my own efforts alone.  It means pushing down expectations, and making the “good” happen instead of waiting for it to happen.  I’m turning 49, can you believe that? =)  Not quite the big five-oh yet, but getting there..   And while I thought years ago that it would be something I would dread, I’m actually looking forward to it.  Life has a funny way of mellowing one out (or driving one to panic — depending on how you look at the passage of time), and I like where it’s taken me this past six months or so.

It is true that things did get better.  You know how you hate it when in the midst of all the turmoil, the bearers of cheer and good tidings keep harping on how things will get better?  I’m way past that now and actually nodding my head in agreement.  I’m not quite over the worst, but I think I’m in a much, much better place today compared to a year ago.

I have much to be thankful for.  Yes, despite all these winter blues. =)  Like this.
Looking eastward: my midtown cityscape glows as the snow threatens to fall from the skies. Gorgeous nightscape.. Can't believe I almost said goodbye to all these once upon a time.  I'm here to stay.. #midtown #midtowneast #mynyc #mynewyork #cityscape #man

It is a beautiful city, and it has been a part of my life for a good third of my existence now.  It’s brought me my greatest joys and biggest heartaches.  I used to think about leaving — for good.  But I think I’ve settled down to the idea that I am here to stay.  My little boy is turning 11 this May — I have a long ways to go before I can think of going some place else.  Though I try to fight it, I have to keep reminding myself that he IS an American.  This is his world, and this is where he wants to be.  This is where he should be.  So here is where I will stay.

I’m looking forward to a “ME” weekend.  Let’s see how that goes.. Happy Friday, everyone!

 

Stewing

Warning: This might be a lot of whining instead of plain writing… and I know someone is snickering reading the title of this post.

My "snowmeter" is still buried in snow but I think you can see that the pavement and the street are clear -- for now.  Rain later and snow tomorrow.. Will it ever end?  Spring, where art thou? #firehydrantinthesnow #firehydrant #winter #winterinnewyork #sIt’s been a rather trying weekend, what with a document hanging over my head which, try as I might, I still failed to finish.  BFF Fe tells me I should unleash the legalese and stop trying to be too polite.  While trying to be polite took a lot of effort, trying to be the opposite, took even more.  So I hit “save” and put it away.  I can write spontaneously most of the time — but this is something that just stumps me.  Fortunately, I don’t have a hard deadline to meet.  Even without a “must be done by” date, I am still trying to get it off my list of to-dos because other more important events are tacked on to it.  I racked my brains and I pushed hard.  I rearranged the paragraphs and kept editing.  Still not done.

I have tomorrow.  The document is stewing in my draft folder.

Meanwhile, we’re bracing for snow.  Forecast said by midnight, but it’s quiet and dry outside my window.  I’m praying the forecast is another dud — and none or very little will fall, sparing us the onslaught of more cold weather tomorrow.  I’m already feeling under the weather thanks to having braved the strip mall in Bay Terrace earlier today on a date with my favorite guy.  (How can I refuse?  Plus, I needed a quick trip to the salon for some spa services.  Done!)  I’m self medicating with antibiotics hoping it will work..

And can I just rant some more.. tried booking my trip home, but one of the two airlines — and the airline I was hoping to take based on schedule and mileage accrual for me — just wouldn’t let me make a reservation.  The website kept hanging.  Is anything every going to go right tonight?  (Or this morning, being that it’s after midnight.)

I’m praying I don’t wake up at just before 4am again — I need my sleep.  I am looking forward to a morning workout tomorrow if the weather cooperates and doesn’t hamper the commute to the city.  If I’m late, that’s that.  (Mother Nature, please pay heed..)

Well, my bed beckons.  Come to bed, sister, it says.  Good morning, New York.. safe travels tomorrow and onto Tuesday.  (Travel advisory warned unsafe road conditions from midnight tonight to Tuesday AM.. I need to go to work, please!)

Monday Musings: Rain + Snow =”Me not happy”

Monday Musings are snippets of what’s going on in my mind as the week begins.  It’s not meant to be a coherent post.  It’s mostly a list for my own consumption.

Yes, the snow did come!  We had snow last night and the weathermen didn’t disappoint this time.  I sense they are being modest with their forecasts because of the brouhaha over last week’s “over-forcecasting of x feet of snow”.  Really.  I can’t understand why people are complaining that we didn’t get buried in what was being broadcast as one of the worst snowstorms in New York history.  Me, I’m just grateful that it was what it was.  I got a snow day which I didn’t mind at all — even if it meant being cooped up at home.  I still don’t like the “after” — slush and ice but it warmed up quickly enough that I didn’t have to worry too much about slipping as I walked outside.

Today’s snow is mixed with rain, though, so while back home in Manila, people would think of that as something akin to the snowcone (which is like our Italian Ice here in New York), what actually happens is a sheet of ice forms being that temperatures dip mixing the ice and the rain, instead of the rain melting the snow.  Perfect equation for Dinna slipping on her way home.  (Fingers crossed!)
Snow never stopped New York City.. The lights burn bright illuminating the snow-topped buildings.  It's actually a pretty sight from my perch.  It tells me how cold it might possibly be but I'm all bundled up.  Keep warm!  #mynewyork #snowneverstoppedNYC

Creating again.  I stayed home all weekend, most of the time with my fleece blanket keeping me warm on the living room sofa.  I didn’t really nap — I think.  Not much.  I also managed to do more than just journaling — I did backgrounds.  What’s more, I created this pendant from a fancy half strand of Rose Quartz faceted nuggets, and one of five fancy cut pink quartz puffed square beads I bought ages ago for quite a price, but had no idea what I would do with it.  Angelo was amazed at what I came up with in what he thought was such a short period of time (only half the afternoon, thank you) — but the truth of it is, it took me around 4 attempts until I was happy enough not to cut the wire and disassemble the piece to try again.

I need to get used to my pliers again and find my wire.  (I only found the gauge 30 artistic wire which was too thin and I didn’t want to crochet wire this time. It took me awhile to decide between the gauge 22 and 24.  I finally settled on the latter.)

I needed the creative outlet because I was deep into a document that was being thrown back and forth, and which, for all it’s simplicity, was giving me the biggest throbbing headache I hadn’t known in more than a year.  (Yes, the ghosts of unresolved dilemmas from that far back can come back with a vengeance that not even Aleve can help me with.)  I could’ve gone on and on but Sunday afternoon saw me deciding to postpone it and give my tired mind (and heart) a break.  I wrote back that I will give a response this week.  The world will not stop turning, waiting for my reply.  I have one all written up, but it was too snarky and might muddle the peace process.

That’s when I decided I was going to make myself a Rose Quartz Pendant I’ve aptly named “Heal my Heart.”  (Note to self: post about the piece in the other blog.)
Pendant: "Heal my Heart" In Rose quartz and #pinkquartz - happy to be creating again, this time a piece to wear.  Gemstones are touted to have different properties and energy.  #RoseQuartz is touted to be both a #StoneofLove and a #HealingStone.  Large fa

I’m beginning to miss Target.  I usually go there every other week.  I’m going to miss going there for a bit because I don’t drive.  I remember Lou telling me there will always be cabs and other ways to go –if I need to go — until the little tyke is big enough to drive me.  And yes, there’s Target online, after all.  It won’t let me go through the make up and all (which is a favorite to-do.. what’s the latest shade, latest product.. let me get that one, and that one!), but when you really think about it — I can always go to the local neighborhood drugstore and pick up my stash from there — at least the ones I don’t get from the department stores.  And let’s not forget Sephora which is everywhere around me in the city.

As for Michael’s, thankfully, there’s one nearby that I can commute to.. even closer than the one in the city that is commutable from work.  I will survive.. “for as long as I know how to love, I know I’ll stay alive… ” .. Okay, enough of the singing.  The rain is bad as it is. LOL

I need to seriously diet again.  Luckily, I haven’t gained weight.  The sad thing is, I haven’t lost any beyond the half pound I gain and lose depending on how much chocolate I ate.  I have to get serious about this because the wedding is in April, and I am slated to buy my gown, in say, 6 weeks.  (I’m going to be a Ninang to the groom who is my godson in baptism.  A favorite one, at that!)

I’m so excited about this trip home for many reasons, primarily because it’s my birthday gift to myself.  (Jumping up and down for joy!)  And like Ces had told me last year, if I ever need loving, all I needed to do was go home because there was a whole lot of that back there from her and from the family.  I can’t wait.  Even if my last trip home was just December 2013, it seems like it’s been forever and a day.

But back to the weight loss saga, it’s a toss up between seriously plunging into the crash phase of The Dukan Diet: 2 Steps to Lose the Weight, 2 Steps to Keep It Off Forever (again) which has worked for me (lost two sizes and its the same diet that is helping me not gain any weight..) or do this new program about doing 21-day cycles.  (Purchase plus commitment to do 30-minute workouts daily.  Might work..)

TO MAKE YOU FEEL MY LOVE: Notes, Chords and all.  Yes, I did it.  Just bought it from Music Notes today…  Then I had to think about whether or not I would transpose to a lower key which, after whispering the song in the lowest possible volume to myself in 2 keys higher than the original and one key lower, I realize is the better one to sing to —  hence, the one I should endeavor to study.  Next step, find me a rehearsal studio.  With all the crappy weather this week, I think I’ll target next week for the first hour.. or maybe this weekend.  (I  have a “ME” weekend coming up..)

Of course, I’m no Adele — but she does sing at a relatively lower key that is manageable for trying hard singers like me.  But more than just the singing, I want to PLAY the song!  Lou (from Chicago), is offering me her piano for free.  I WISH!!!!  I would gladly take that off your hands, if I could, but getting that from there to here would be such a herculean task that I will have to pass up on the offer.  (SADLY.)

First Monday of February.  Where did January go?  I’m actually grateful that the month has passed.  It makes me feel like I’m actually moving forward.  Maybe it’s just because I’m in the middle of something I’ve been told will take a tad longer than I would want to give it time to be completed.. but that is beyond my control.  The passing of the months is actually comforting, because then, the longer period of time I’ve been told to expect will be done in no time at all.  Patience, Dinna — I tell myself.  It has never been one of my stronger suits.

Compassion comes from the strangest of places.  I had a talk with a lady who, in her professional capacity, gives out compassion in buckets every single day.  I tried to be cool and collected, laughing through her inquiries, and yet trying to let her know I’m really at a loss as to what I’m supposed to do.  I spoke, she listened.  Then in a very calm way, she told me I should take care of me.

She gave me her professional opinion.  Again, I listened.  And I stood calmly, clutching my phone to my ear, and my mind to my heart.

“It is important that you take care of yourself,” she said.   Hearing that from someone I only knew professionally, somehow felt like a warm hug to the heart — on this day when I am trying to bundle up against the cold of winter, and when I am trying to find my balance as the road starts to get uneven and steep, those words came like the crutch I needed.

Time to brave the cold.  Bundle up, New York!
Snowy morning in Bryant Park.. The ground hog said six more weeks of this!  Lovely to behold but it's another thing to wade through this all layered up... Keep warm, NYC ! #groundhogdayNY #sixmoreweeksofwinter #nyc #mynewyork #manhattan #midtown #wintervi

Monday Musings: Expecting snow yet again

It’s a few minutes past 6am and I have another 15 minutes to let the color mousse in my hair set in — it’s one of those mornings when I have to multitask between breakfast and other routines.  So I thought I’d sit here and write a post in the meantime, and since my brain is still in weekend mode and unable, as yet, to write a full post, let’s do our Monday Musings bit: a collection of snippets I pull together on Mondays.

A good breakfast is having a favorite treat: like giant sesame balls.  I just love sesame balls — or buchi as we call them back home.  I have an Asian grocery a short drive away which has a bakery in house which makes them in this humongous size.  As in tennis ball size!  The only problem is that the Sunday lunch crowd usually grabs them early on, but I was there around 11am yesterday and I managed to get 3.  So I had one for lunch, another for an afternoon snack/part dinner, and one for breakfast today.  Yummy!

So to keep on my weight loss journey, I always switch a treat for a meal or make up for it with extra physical exertion.  That way, I don’t overload on calories and sabotage my fitness goals.  I’m a little disappointed I have plateaued yet again, but I am proud to say I haven’t gained weight despite the occasional indulgence.  This, of course, means that I will have to go on the “shock phase” of my diet yet again to regain my footing and hopefully break through the plateau I’ve hit.

I am thankful for another week — even if they said we’re expecting rain and snow yet again, specifically today.  Everyone back in Manila and in most parts of the world which don’t see snow are so awed by it.  It IS quite a sight when it is falling, more so when it’s a glowing sky above and the snow starts to really accumulate in a thick coat on the ground and everywhere else.  Until you have to walk under it and get to work in the slush or slippery ice. And worse, when things like your iPhone falls on the soft snow and you don’t even hear a thud.  (And it is never returned to you, of course.)

Yes, I lost another phone — and I’m waiting for the replacement.  It’s back to the good old reliable blackberry for me, in the meantime, which I carry anyway as a backup.  The iPhone 5s was on the Good app which was good, but which had to be prompted to refresh unlike the blackberry which keeps refreshing as the mail comes.  The good news is, I’ve been told that the iPhone 6 actually runs on Outlook which should be much, much easier.  (We shall see.)

Again, I hate the hassle of losing almost 2,000 photos on that phone, just when I was about to back it up, having learned from losing thrice that much in pictures the first time I lost one.  (Lesson learned!)

It is heartening to see France uniting against violence in the midst of the terrorist attacks of last week.  I didn’t quite see it but heard about it in the news, and I am sure that the newspapers will be awash with coverage of the weekend demonstrations with the French coming together to show their solidarity as a country sans religious distinctions.  That, to me, was a triumphant declaration that violence will never be tolerated, and that there is a lot of good in humanity out there — no matter how deep the hatred may lie in certain factions of society.

It shows me there is hope that peace will prevail, and that the hand of violence will always be slapped down shackled, if need be, by the voice of the majority.

Of course as a New Yorker, I cannot help but fear that the same things might happen here.  I hope not.  Let this be the one and only incident of such a nature.  That is my prayer.

Well, time to get ready for work.  I hope everyone stays safe.  Let’s say a prayer for those who lost their lives on both sides in the tragic events that occurred in France last week.  Paris is, and will always be, one of my favorite cities.  I hope to one day go back and walk your streets again..

Remembering Paris: one of my rare personal photo treasures -- taken many years ago with a shot from one of the clocks within the Musee D'Orsay showing the Louvre across the Seine.  One day I'll take that third trip to Paris yet and maybe take a better sho

One of my favorite shots of the Louvre from one of the windows outside the clock of the Musee D’Orsay.

 

A Wintery Friday

This has got to be the longest winter yet, not because it is literally long but because the snow just keeps coming. What’s worse is that it’s been so cold that not only are we accumulating snow because it has been coming storm after storm after storm, but because we haven’t had high enough temperatures to allow the previous storm’s snow to melt.

Friday was the worst because we already had inches of snow that got a foot more over a 36 hour period. I wasn’t surprised that the car service company told me they weren’t taking reservations and couldn’t promise they would have anything by the time I needed it to bring Angelo to school and get dropped off at the bus stop.

Oh, and did I mention I had helped him make a newspaper project which we had to bring to school this same morning?
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For all of you who like snow, I agree that it looks beautiful when it’s freshly fallen and you see all the undisturbed white. But then it changes when you have to walk on it, snowboots or no snowboots.
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It was just beautiful and quite a relief to see blue skies above for a change.  We’ve been having grey and muggy skies of late and it helps when the sun is out in full force.  Not only does it lift your spirits up but it helps to temper the cold on the ground.
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This even as the sun was just rising at a few minutes past 8am.  I walk past this bike path in a park behind my son’s school to the nearer bus stop.  It meant moving two stops back, but I couldn’t risk the icy and slushy walk to the one I usually take.  I figured it was easier to go this way.

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Every time I walk through this path, I can’t help but take pictures of this patch of trees — green in the spring and the summer, fiery during the changing of the colors of fall, and bare yet elegant in the winter months.

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Layered and all bundled up, I walked with my gloves and I trudged through the snow.  There were little things that had fallen after the storm and nestled snuggly into this soft bed of white.
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Part of the walk still had undisturbed snow.  I had to take a picture before my trail marred this undisturbed carpet of white.  This is a normally flat sidewalk with grass on either side, but the previous week’s snow was a few inches high, and both the walk and the sides got a generous snowfall that made it look like there was a foot-tall embakment.

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And finally I crossed the highway to my stop.  This is an eerie shot of the sun continuing to rise behind another thick cover of bare trees in the foreground.  Still I cannot help but keep taking shots although I’ve done this many times.  The concrete is glistening with melting snow.  It looks like it just rained but that’s actually the ice melting away.  Slow, though, it may be.

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I can’t believe they’re saying we’re going to get some snow today.  Yesterday’s skies were prettier — now all I have is another shade of grey above.  We’re home sitting warm and toasty — the thing with snow and rain is it warms the atmosphere up, save for the natural cold that you feel from snow still on the ground.  (Imagine how dry ice cools something in your cooler.)

Winter is a photographer’s dream come true but it stops being a pleasant one once you try and go about your normal day with the snow all around you.  I got into the city eventually.  The snow is not as beautiful as it is down there because they plow the roads quicker, and the sidewalks are cleared faster.  (There is a law that property owners must take care of the public spaces around them within four hours from the end of a snowstorm.)

No more snow, please.  Keeping my fingers crossed I get my wish.

Rain, Ice and Snow and Sir Kenneth Branagh

After the snow - as my day begins

I promise I will try to refrain from posting any more “SNOW” pictures until I get something spectacular yet again. Can we move on to spring, please? My snowboots get special billing in the collage above because I cannot be any happier with a practical (read: necessary) purchase than my Nine West Winter boots. Water-proof and traction is as good as any rough terrain pair — it has paid for its cost of acquisition many times over in this winter alone. And mind you, this was on sale at way below $100.

I can’t wait for winter to be over, more so today when I had to literally wade through slush, mush and snow — both hard and icy and soft and mushy.

Thankfully, it isn’t freezing cold, although you still won’t be able to make it through a block without your gloves and some headgear. I made it to work — and yes, in one piece.

For the first time since we moved to this building five years ago (if memory serves me right), I was greeted by a sheet of ice outside our window panes. At 41 floors above Manhattan, it was an eerie yet pretty sight to behold. I snapped up some pictures and this, below, is one of my favorites ever.

Icy rainy snowy morning

So what does rain, ice and snow have to do with Sir Kenneth Branagh? Nothing. It’s just that I didn’t feel like writing two posts so I’m combining them into one. (More for my benefit than yours.) I have been reading a back issue of Vanity Fair and had come across this one-page article, What You Should Know About Sir Kenneth Branagh.  Of course all it needed was his name and picture on the page to get me to read, and you’ll find it interesting whether or not you have a big crush on him like I do — but I was struck by the way the article was written — sort of a fill-in-the-blanks kind of thing and I thought it would be interesting to go and try that.  So here’s my version of What you should know about Pinay New Yorker:

She takes her coffee with 2% milk and Splenda, and when she feels like indulging her love of milkshakes, she puts some ice cream to flavor her coffee.

She irons her hair, as directed by her stylist Zeph, after she completely dries it and puts hair products in to protect it from that daily torture.

Every day, she begins her day by praying the Serenity Prayer (because that prayer is not only for those with real addictions but for anyone who needs courage and wisdom) and reads the daily reading from KerygmaFamily and prays.

Her being Pinay — despite being a New Yorker for the last 14 years, is a badge that she proudly carries even if she’s often mistaken to be Chinese or Latino.  And when told the last name throws them off, she launches into a mini-history lesson on how the Philippines was a Spanish colony for over 300 years, hence the Spanish surnames for most of the Philippine populace (with the rest of us Pinoys carrying Chinese surnames.)

Her self-declared “addiction” is to soda and chocolates, both of which she is trying to avoid by starting to lessen  her usually voluminous intake.  (More water, please, and when the penchant for something milky and sweet hits her palate, she grabs a cup of decaf coffee with skim milk and her sweeteners.)

She still writes letters longhand. And long letters, at that.

She commutes home these days on the 6 or something express bus to her side of Queens, getting there just in time to rush through homework, cook dinner and be a Mom.   She hopes one day to find herself sitting next to some famous hunk of a movie star trying to get into the character of someone riding the bus home from work in Manhattan.  (Can I have Brad Pitt, please?)

Her most beloved piece of home décor is a print of the Laughing Christ which isn’t hanging in her home right now, but which has been transported from Manila to New York during one of her previous trips home.

Lured by the daily buzz in Bryant Park which is just across the street during the lunch hour, she often dreams of just sitting there and blending in with nature even when it’s raining, and more so when the snow is falling heavily.

The appliance she most despises is the flat iron because she could never quite figure out how to iron clothes properly.  (Yes, there are skills that can be learned but not mastered.)

The superpower she desires most is to fly so that she can go wherever she wants to go without having to worry about getting there and getting back home in time to do homework and cook dinner.. yet again.

Her favorite songs are “Can We Still Be Friends?” by Todd Rundgren (very, very sad song but with a very good progression of notes that evokes such feelings of regret and resignation), “Two for the Road” by Monica Mancini — yes, the daughter of THE Henry Mancini who composed the song (a sad melody with a very romantic promise of commitment one can only wish and hope for) and “Bituing Walang Ningning” by Sharon Cuneta — I always said it evokes that feeling of one giving up everything for someone you think is worth giving it up for.  Of course whether that turns out okay or not is altogether a different story — and another song.

When craving a sweet, she prefers the old style caramels coated with milk chocolate like those that used to be known as “Pompoms”.

Germ-averse, she is not, but she takes care to make sure she sneezes into a handkerchief or sheet of tissue lest the germophobes around her get upset.

Her last twinge of bemusement was in watching her son make fun of her attempts to lose weight, saying she’s not cute and sexy if she isn’t fat.

Her celebratory drink is a glass (or two) of champagne which she hasn’t had in quite a while, probably for lack of something to celebrate or simply because New Year’s Eves are not pop-the-bottle-of-champagne kinds of occasions in her house (even if it is for her.)

Snowy, snowy Monday

Snowy Monday
We woke up with a good layer of snow covering most of the ground and a steady snowfall threatening more.  I was the only one who trudged out to brave it, and there was already almost two inches of snow as I made my way to the bus stop.

I’m a fan of freshly fallen snow, but I loathe having to deal with its aftermath.  You feel like you’re walking inside a freezer and you have to be quick to distinguish ice from slush from soft snow.

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More than an hour later, the bus managed to literally crawl to Manhattan.  Snow tends to slow vehicles because it is slippery and gives the vehicles a lot of difficulty when it comes to maneuvering.  It wasn’t as bad in the city but the snow didn’t stop falling.  The trees were already outlined by snow resting and accumulating on its branches when I reached Manhattan just after 9am.

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By noon, the New York Public Library and Bryant Park 41 storeys below me were blanketed with snow — and no, this photo is not in black and white.  Snow and the weather condition made it look like it was.

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The vista across from our building was a gloomy grey.  The continuing snow fall made it so, as if a shroud of gloom descended upon the city.

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The most dramatic yet was the one I took just a short distance from my doorstep as the sky glowed while a slight drizzle of snow fell to the ground.  For all the hazard and difficulties brought about by such heavy snowfall, you can’t help but admire the beauty of all that white, coating the outlines of the trees as you look up into what looks like a luminous night sky.  No bright lights — hence, the brownish tint of the picture.  (Plus, of course, a little help from Instagram’s filters..)

Breathtaking.

Yet a little colder

Snow today againYesterday, we woke up to around an inch of snow which only meant continuing cold temperatures in an already very cold New York.  I snapped this picture up on the way out to the bus stop.  The sun was already peeking out but it was cold..

No snow this morning but still below freezing temperatures so I’m all layered and bundled up. It doesn’t help that I seem to be coming down with something although I’m self-medicating as always.  (Not quite there yet — but so far my meds are holding up.)  “Meds + tea” seem to be working.

Meanwhile, I’ve been journaling on my Altered book. Showing the actual spreads as done here is a bit of a challenge because I’m trying to keep the journal entries private. Much of what I had written there were very personal. So instead I’ve been posting additions and add-ons I’ve been working on over at Gothamchick. One of my more recent posts is about some Filofax pages and Rolodex blanks I spray painted which you can read about here.

These days I’ve been thinking a lot about polymer clay, my Etsy store and getting that store going again. And yet jump starting things has taken a backseat to life in general. Thinking about it, I guess, is a start

I try to condition the clay when I can but actually setting aside time to work on them has been difficult. I keep going to Polymer Clay Daily for inspiration and ideas. Getting there.

Snowy NYC

I’ve been around.. just didn’t quite find a post worth sitting to write about, and have instead been “Instagram” busy.  (Find me there as GothamChick)  I have 15 followers, and I’ve been trying to post daily.

I love the app — but I still can’t do my posts without Flickr. (Where I have a healthy portfolio as Pinay New Yorker)

We got some serious snow during the week and I’ve been told we’re getting a little more tomorrow.  Just a little.  (Well, I sure hope so.) 

Winter Storm January 2014

So we got a lot of snow and it’s still lying around slowly “disappearing” if only because the temperatures are at record lows. We’re lucky to start the day with double digits. 9 degrees! That’s the norm these days.
Winter Storm January 2014You can hardly see the Empire State Building peeking from behind the thick blanket of snow falling on Manhattan.
Winter Storm January 2014

The buses were hardly running and I wanted to make it to the other side to go home, so I walked. I had my umbrella but the snow was blowing from all sides. The good thing is I was properly attired with my snow boots and long coat, so save for a constant spray hitting my face, I was good. (My greatest fear wasn’t slipping but having raccoon eyes by the time I got to my destination! Vanity!!! HAHA!)

The kids, however, were sorely disappointed because the following day wasn’t declared a snow day.  So my little guy trekked to school, but I spared him the walk home and had our friend pick him up instead of having extended day. 

Like most things that come our way here in the big apple, we went through the storm and then moved on.  That is so New York – moving on – and it keeps us going through the best and the worst of times.
Winter Storm January 2014

By the time we got to this part of the city on Fifth Avenue and our bus crawled in front of the New York Public Library, we had been in the bus over an hour.  And we did make it home at just under three.  Three hours on the bus — yes..but we made it home.